Saturday, 30 September 2017

Sid Valley HELP launching next month

Earlier in the year, a crucial community service closed:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Help Link to close - but other voluntary organisations to maintain part of the services

A replacement is being set up:

Here to HELP, new service to kickstart fundraising to support Sid Valley

PUBLISHED: 12:17 29 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:17 29 September 2017

Aaron Clarke and Di Fuller with Councillor Stuart Hughes at the first ever healthy living festival last year. Ref shs 16-17TI 9448. Picture: Terry Ife

A new trailblazing help service is launching in the Sid Valley – and an ambitious fundraising target of £60,000 will help it operate for the next three years

Members of the Sidmouth Health and Care Forum are the brainchild behind Sid Valley HELP, which is launching in October.
The new service is looking to continue the work of the Help Link Service, which closed in March after more than 20 years of helping people in the parish.
It will also provide more befriending services and work to support local volunteering activities.
Di Fuller, chairman of the Sidmouth Health and Care Forum, has revealed it is vying to secure £5,000 from Sidmouth Town Council to help kickstart its fundraising drive.
Mrs Fuller said: “While it is important to consider the immediate issue of Help Link Service’s [closure] and how to support its continuation, it was recognised that other aspects of volunteering in Sidmouth need to be considered, particularly befriending or visiting services. This is the reason for setting up Sid Valley HELP.
“Our mission is to unite and mobilise the goodwill of our community, to support all local residents of the Sid Valley when it is needed most in times of illness, loneliness, difficulty or life changing circumstances.
“In the first instance we need to get the information and advice that works, we would need a minimum of £10,000 a year and then with the befriending and visiting people, we would be looking at £20,000 a year.
“We know for example there are other needs in the community like mental heath support, particularly with young people and as we move forward there will be other needs as well. The costs will increase and we will be looking for as many different funding streams as we can.”
If the forum manages to win its £5,000 council bid, the money will enable it to hire a co-ordinator and commission a scoping study of the Sid Valley.
At its launch on Tuesday, October 17, the steering group is inviting local organisations to find about the service. The meeting will run from 4pm to 5.30pm in St Francis Church Hall.
Sidmouth Town Council will discuss the request at its meeting on Monday.

Sid Valley HELP launches fundraising - Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Neave Brown, 'pioneer of quality public housing', receives RIBA gold medal

Neave Brown is the only architect to have had all his UK work listed, including Dartmouth Park, the Dunboyne Road Estate and the Alexandra Road Estate in London:
Neave Brown - Wikipedia

In his eighties, he's just won a prize for his council housing from the 196os and 70s:
Neave Brown wins Royal Gold Medal for architecture

Overdue recognition for Mrs Brown's boy

Housing represents arguably the most important piece of architecture its users will experience. Yet we have to go back to 1987 when Byker estate architect Ralph Erskine won the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for the last time its recipient was so closely associated with housing. This year’s winner, Neave Brown, designed a series of council housing projects in the 60s and 70s, many for the London Borough of Camden, which have not only stood the test of time, but grown in reputation and are now highly coveted homes.

He is famously the only architect to have all his UK buildings listed, but when he was creating his schemes they were widely derided. As architectural historian Mark Swenarton points out in his medal citation, the orthodoxy then was for ‘slabs set in empty space, stemming from the ‘death of the street’ proclaimed by Le Corbusier’ while in contrast Brown ‘created a model in which connections were based on the street’.

Fittingly, his nomination was backed by considerable support from residents of his most famous project, the Alexandra Road estate. Brown is himself a rare example of an architect living in the development they designed, his home being on his own Dunboyne Estate.

Sadly Brown’s poor health means the 88-year-old will receive his medal at a private ceremony on Monday rather than the full hoopla event that usually takes place. It seems a pity the medal was not awarded earlier. But the RIBA is clearly seeking to make a clear statement about social housing through its choice, with president Ben Derbyshire urging the government to look to Brown’s ‘housing ideals and innovative architecture’ in solving the present housing crisis.

Tributes to Neave Brown: 'An architect who designed the setting for social life and relationships' | News | Architects Journal

The Dezeen magazine looks at his work:

Key housing projects by 2018 Royal Gold Medallist Neave Brown

Lauded as a "pioneer of quality public housing", the 2018 Royal Gold Medallist Neave Brown is best known for his housing schemes in north London. Here's a look at five of his key residential projects at home and abroad.
Brown, 88, was named the 2018 recipient of the 2018 Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) yesterday, recognising his lifelong commitment to architecture.
Brown studied at the Architectural Association in London before going on to work for the architects departments at Camden Council, and latterly closed his practice to take an art degree at the City and Guilds of London School of Art.
His low-rise by high-density housing in the London borough of Camden – particularly his Alexandra Road estate – are widely recognised, but Brown also went on to design housing in both the Netherlands and Italy.
Brown is currently the only living architect to have all of his projects in the UK listed by public body Historic England. His receipt of the Royal Gold Medal comes at a time when the fate of post-war buildings is firmly in the spotlight.
Sitting on the board that selected him for the award was architect Ted Cullinan, whose now-demolished Horder House has just been included on a list of lost treasures by preservation body the Twentieth Century Society.

Winscombe Street, London (1965)
Neave Brown designed 22-32 Winscombe Street, a row of five terraced homes in the Dartmouth Park area of north London, for himself and the families of his friends.
The private co-housing scheme was funded in its entirely from a loan from Camden Council, and was to become the prototype for his larger public housing estates he designed.
Brown lived in at Winscombe Street for 40 years before moving to his Fleet Road development.

Alexandra Road estate, London (1978)
Located near Swiss Cottage, the Alexandra Road estate comprises 500 homes, as well as numerous community facilities include shops, a community centre, a recently renovated school for children with special needs.
The striking stepped formation of the blocks rises to just eight storeys, and walkways run through the tiers of the scheme.
RIBA president Ben Derbyshire holds the project up as an example for what social housing could be today.
"The government must empower and then encourage every single council across the country to build a new generation of well-designed, affordable and sustainable homes that meet the needs of the millions of people currently failed by the housing market," he said, announcing Brown as the winner of the medal.

Dunboyne Road Estate, Fleet Road, London, England (1975)
Dunboyne Road estate near Gospel Oak was Brown's first housing project for Camden. Brown lived in the estate following a 40-year stint at his Winscombe Street design.
Each of 71 maisonettes and apartments have a private terrace and communal garden, and are housed in blocks that flank a central pedestrian walkway. There is also a shop and a studio onsite.

Five key projects by 2018 Royal Gold Medallist Neave Brown

Earth or Mars, the future is all about reusability

One billionaire entrepreneur has his sights on taking us to Mars:
Elon Musk: SpaceX can colonise Mars and build moon base | Technology | The Guardian
It's Gonna Be A Long, Long Time Before Elon Musk Can Shrink The Planet - Forbes

Perhaps we should be looking at the present rather than futuristic fantasies:
Futures Forum: The future, with all of its ideological baggage, and its smoldering graveyard of unfulfilled dreams, has failed us. We’d do well to abandon it, and start figuring out how we might survive the present.

Especially as much of this thinking is pure escapism:
Futures Forum: Mission into space >>> "We’re making a mess of this planet - it’s probably good for another 200 or 300 years, so it makes sense to get out there and find another one."
Futures Forum: Climate change... and 'Interstellar': 'Cli-fi' escapism?

Besides, such promises have made before - with alternative agendas put in their place.

As another billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel has said:
“We were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters.”

Or as anthropologist David Graeber has asked:
Futures Forum: "Where are the flying cars?" or, "What happened to derail so many credible ideas and prospects?"

As always, the NEF makes a few salient points:



We are all caught up in a culture of consuming, using and disposing of things. But these ‘things’ then become waste that clogs up the Earth’s ecosystems. So we ask: what is more logical than creating or harnessing things that we can use again and again? It saves us money in the long term, avoids unnecessary waste and opens up possibilities that we have only dreamed of.
So here’s the good news. A tidal power station in the Pentland Firth between mainland Scotland and Orkney broke the world record last month for electricity generation from tides.
During August, two tidal turbines produced enough energy to power 2,000 Scottish homes. And studies have showed that this site alone has potential to generate 43 per cent of the total electricity used in Scotland. Scotland is also host to the world’s first community-owned tidal power turbine, which started exporting electricity to the local grid back in 2014. This shows that communities can be in control of building a new energy future.
Then there’s Mars. Elon Musk is certainly pushing the boundaries of energy creativity on Earth right now, making electric cars economically viable and desirable. But for his pet project of building a human colony on Mars, he has established reusability as a key challenge. And this is all about economics. Musk said: “To make Mars trips possible on a large enough scale to create a self-sustaining city, full reusability is essential.”
So, whether we are talking about our plans to build thriving communities on Earth, or on Mars, it won’t happen unless we really commit and invest in solving our reusability challenge.
Unfortunately, the UK government doesn’t seem very interested.  Almost half of the money the UK spent on energy abroad in recent years went on fossil fuels while barely more than a fifth was spent on renewable energy sources. And, despite having the relatively low target of getting 15 per cent of all energy from renewables by 2020, the UK still has more ground to make up than all but three of the other European Union countries.
Change takes time, so there’s no time to waste. Successes like tidal energy in Scotland are only possible with high-level long-term commitments in place to guide the investment that is needed. Businesses, local authorities, innovators and communities are still waiting for a clear commitment from the UK government to long-term innovation funding for renewable energy sources, including community-led energy projects, and to rapidly phase out support for fossil fuels.
A new economy based on reusability is not only desirable but possible. No matter how hard the challenge might be, once we know what we want to achieve, we are already halfway there. So let’s not stop now.

Earth or Mars, the future is all about reusability | New Economics Foundation


Friday, 29 September 2017

A Neighbourhood Plan for the Sid Valley: full report on second household questionnaire now available

The Sid Vale Neighbourhood Planners were busy over the summer:
Futures Forum: A Neighbourhood Plan for the Sid Valley: publishing survey results and writing draft policies

And now the full report putting together information and analysis on the second survey is available to view:

2nd Household Survey 
-  Report is Now Available to View

The second and final household consultation closed in June 2017 and the response was incredible. Over 1800 households completed the online or paper survey to tell us their views about future development and how this impacts on the natural and human-made environment, our housing and the community who live in this beautiful valley.
Thank you to everyone who responded – we really appreciate the time and effort you gave to tell us your views which will help ensure that the Neighbourhood Plan truly reflects the wishes of the community.
The results have all been analysed and the report is now available to view by clicking on this link.

NeighbourHood Plan - Sidmouth Town Council
2nd Household Survey – Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan

With coverage in today's Herald:

Latest Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan results revealed

PUBLISHED: 07:17 29 September 2017 | UPDATED: 07:24 29 September 2017

A beautiful view of Sidmouth from Salcombe Hill. Ref shr Sidmouth up close 7283. Picture: Alex Walton.

The results of the final questionnaire for the latest Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan were published today (Friday)

Results from the latest Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan (SVNP) questionnaire were published 
today (Friday).
The second household survey of its kind had a 25 per cent response rate, with 1,863 questionnaires being returned, representing the 
largest ever survey of local opinion in the valley.
Residents highlighted the importance of retaining the historic appearance and local distinctiveness of the Sid Valley, with 90 per cent of people supporting the protection of key views like the seafront, the Byes, Salcombe Hill and Peak Hill.
Great importance was placed on the need for a balanced community that meets the needs of the whole population by proactively providing mixed housing, including affordable and social homes.
The level of allocated housing 
for the Sid Valley was deemed 
‘about right’. However, people recognised the need for affordable homes for young people.
Overall, 83 per cent of respondents expressed desires to see new restrictions to address issues with empty second homes.
New housing on built-up area boundaries and on brownfield sites was also strongly supported.
And, people supported making use of brownfield sites, particularly for small-scale start-up businesses that provide quality employment.
Overall, 81 per cent supported additional small-scale employment space within the built-up areas, and 90 per cent support initiatives which make better use of the Alexandria Employment Site. A total of 93 per cent thought that encouraging young people to stay through the creation of quality employment opportunities was very important.
Community and culture was considered to be a vital, with 94 per cent wishing to protect public open spaces and 84 per cent supporting the provision of indoor and all weather accessible recreation spaces.
The SVNP team is now drafting policies based on their findings.
The resulting draft Neighbourhood Plan will then be consulted on by Sidmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council, as well as other relevant statutory bodies before going out for external inspection and finally a referendum.
Visit www.sidvalleyneighbourhood
plan.com to see all the results.

Latest Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan results revealed - Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Neighbourhood planning in Exmouth >>> ideas for consultation closing Saturday

Exmouth's neighbourhood plan started two years ago: 
Futures Forum: Exmouth jiggery-pokery: "The situation that EDDC have got themselves in is a great chance to assert ourselves in the Neighbourhood Plan."

And is now open to consultation - with some ideas from Sustainable Exmouth:

Saturday is the Last Day...

Much as I’m keen to tell you about our AGM, a level head tells me that I must put planned events first. At the top of this newsletter is the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) consultation opportunity because the consultation closes on Saturday!
it’s an important matter and one which your Officers have put in and will be putting in, much time. All necessary information may be found at http://www.exmouthneighbourhoodplan.uk/ which tells you how to respond with your views but hurry because the consultation finishes at the end of the month.
We advise members to read the consultation document and respond by Saturday, concentrating on the following subjects, into which we have put our lobbying efforts recently: A) Green wedges/routes, B) Zero-carbon construction, C) Environmental Interpretation Centre, and D) A Biodiversity Action Plan.
The following is Noel’s wish-list, some of the items are his own opinions but you may wish to follow his lead. Note: It is unclear to what extent the Neighbourhood Plan can influence the QDD development.
  • Exmouth to be marketed as an ecological sea-side resort, and retain/enhance green corridors such as: Madeira Walk, the Littleham/Withycombe/Bapton valleys.
  • All new buildings to have the best ecological features. Water harvesting is also necessary. Need for a mixed use community building.
  • Exmouth needs to retain space for a major employer to relocate here.
  • New, highest-quality, housing must allow spaces for gardens and allotments. Trees preserved, character of the area maintained. Separate pedestrians from vehicles.
  • Research new models for providing Zero-carbon affordable homes.
  • Make Exmouth an Eco-town.
  • Tax rules support the construction of housing reserved for the over 55s. Stop this.
  • Keep up the pressure for an Integrated Transport Interchange and more buses. Improve pedestrian and cycle routes.
  • An Environment Interpretation centre should be a high priority, enabling Exmouth to maximise its potential as a sustainable holiday resort.
  • Eco-friendly development of Bystock and Marley neighbourhoods.

The NP process does not stop at the referendum, we must initiate 'Ginger Groups' so as to realize our lobbying ambitions.

Transition Exmouth - Posts | Facebook

Climate change: and permafrost melting in Russia

What's happening to Russia's permafrost is rather frightening:
BBC - Earth - There are diseases hidden in ice, and they are waking up
Bacteria, Methane, and Other Dangers Within Siberia's Melting Permafrost | WIRED

The thawing of the permafrost will speed up climate change - as methane is much more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2:

Mysterious craters blowing out of Russia could mean trouble for the whole planet from CNBC.
Siberian craters: Big releases of methane could pose broad problems - CNBC

But Russia isn't going to do very much about it:

Last night, BBC Two travelled to Siberia:

Russia with Simon Reeve

28 September 2017
Episode 1 of 3

A hundred years after the Russian Revolution, Simon Reeve embarks on the first leg of an extraordinary three-part journey across Russia.

Setting out amongst the active, snow-capped volcanoes of Kamchatka, over 4,000 miles from Moscow, Simon explores one of the remotest regions of the country. The population of Russia's far east has fallen dramatically in recent years, but travelling by chopper and skidoo, Simon finds indigenous reindeer herders who are still eking out a fragile existence in this spectacular but inhospitable wilderness.

Despite an exodus of Russians moving west, the government is trying to maintain a grip on its eastern territories. In the port city of Vladivostok, Simon visits a newly built mega casino, designed to attract high rollers and tourists from neighbouring China. Russia's far east is full of natural resources, including huge amounts of timber from the vast Boreal Forest. Deep in the forest, Simon meets the inspirational conservationist who has created a sanctuary for the country's most iconic predator, the giant Amur tiger. Their habitat is threatened by illegal logging. It is a sensitive story involving political corruption, and throughout his stay Simon is followed and harassed by the authorities, finally being forced to leave the area. It is a powerful reminder of Russia's authoritarian and corrupt system.

Simon heads north, travelling on treacherous ice roads to Yakutsk, a city south of the Arctic Circle that is built entirely on permafrost. This vast layer of frozen earth is melting and Simon ends his journey on the rim of a giant crater that has emerged in the Siberian landscape - chilling evidence of the impact of global climate change.

BBC Two - Russia with Simon Reeve, Series 1, Episode 1

Thursday, 28 September 2017

"Bring back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans" >>> Surfers Against Sewage to deliver petition to Parliament tomorrow

We've got a problem with plastic:
Futures Forum: Continuing to collect plastic, 'thereby making it easier for householders to recycle' - although the District Council 'cannot guarantee it will be recycled'
Futures Forum: The UK pledges action to reduce plastic waste in the world's oceans - "to lead the world in environmental protection"
Futures Forum: The Plastic Challenge

The Scots and Welsh are taking plastic bottles seriously:
Nicola Sturgeon announces can and bottle deposit return scheme - The Scotsman
Wales could introduce 'plastic tax' to tackle ocean litter - Sky News

The press and politicians are pushing for action:
Lib Dems back Mail's bid for bottle deposit scheme | Daily Mail Online

Tomorrow, the Surfers Against Sewage will be delivering a petition to Parliament:

Bring back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans.

Stop marine plastic pollution by introducing a small, refundable deposit on all plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans to recycle the 16 million plastic bottles thrown away every day.

Why is this important?

In the UK we use a staggering 38.5 million single-use plastic bottles and a further 58 million cans every day! Only half of these are recycled, so it’s no surprise that many of these end up on our beaches and in our oceans.
Plastic bottles take 450 years to break down, killing marine life, harming the coastal ecosystem and ruining our beaches.
Placing a small deposit on plastic bottles and cans would dramatically increase recycling and reduce marine plastic pollution.
This petition has been set up by Surfers Against Sewage, a marine conservation charity. Find out more about Surfers Against Sewage here: http://www.sas.org.uk
For more information on deposit return systems please visit Surfers Against Sewage’s Message In A Bottle campaign site. https://www.sas.org.uk/messageinabottle/
A delegation from Surfers Against Sewage will deliver the petition signatures to the Governments in Westminster (London), Holyrood (Edinburgh), Senedd (Cardiff) and Stormont (Belfast).

38 Degrees Logo

Plastic bottles are littering our high streets, parks and beaches. They don’t rot, so they end up clogging up landfill sites and the sea. [1] But in 24 hours we could change that. [2]

270,000 people have already signed a petition calling for one simple solution: to bring back a bottle deposit scheme. [3] Now, it’s decision time: tomorrow, a group of MPs will decide whether to do it - and they want to hear what the public think first. [4]

Let’s tell MPs exactly why plastic pollution & litter needs to be a thing of the past. If thousands of us share why we want to bring back bottle deposits, they won’t be able to ignore us.

Will you take the survey now? It takes a few minutes, so put the kettle on. On Friday, we’ll take it straight to MPs. 

Plastic pollution is a huge problem, and a deposit scheme may seem like a small step, but it could mean up to 96% of plastic bottles would be returned for recycling. [5] We have already seen that with the 5p plastic bag charge, and the successful 38 Degrees campaign to get supermarkets to switch to paper cotton buds, small changes do add up. [6]

It’s incredible how much we’ve done already. Thousands of 38 Degrees members have already signed the Surfers Against Sewage petition, we’ve handed in the petition to MPs in Downing Street, and the Environment Minister Michael Gove MP is backing the scheme. [7] The consultation in 24 hours is our final push to stop plastic bottles littering our beaches and streets for good. So we need to keep up the pressure.

The MPs deciding the future of plastic in the UK will be hearing from lots of businesses including some who are very against the idea. What’s missing is the public’s thoughts. A huge survey - telling MPs exactly why the government needs to take plastic pollution seriously - could convince them to bring back bottle deposits.


[1] Recycle Now: Britain fails to recycle 16 million plastic bottles every day

[2] The Guardian: MPs to reopen inquiry into plastic bottle use

[3] For example, it could add 10p to the price of a drink and if you return the bottle, you get the money back. It would mean that millions of bottles would get recycled:
38 Degrees: Bring back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans

[4] Parliament.uk: Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups and Plastic Bottles inquiry launched

[5] This Is Eco: Should the UK introduce a bottle deposit scheme?

[6] The Guardian: England's plastic bag usage drops 85% since 5p charge introduced

[7] Facebook: The tide is turning on plastic pollution!

Sky News: Gove calls for plastic bottle deposit scheme 'as soon as possible'

Bring back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans. | Campaigns by You